Who is Randy Brittain?
He is my husband of 29 years, best friend, and lifelong partner on our zig-zagging, adventurous journey with Jesus! He’s also one of the most intelligent people I know, father of our two robust seeds and successful manager over our homestead. He comes equipped with a generous heart, which he protects with a dry, crusty sense of humor. He’s my man!
We’ve known each other since our early twenties when we were both internal auditors at SunBank (now SunTrust) in Orlando, Florida. Previous to Orlando, STFM (SunTanned Feet Man) was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio… far from UV rays. I remember thinking when I first met Randy at work, “I’ve never seen anyone with such an extreme of jet black hair and pale white skin”.
As our work relationship and later romantic interest developed, we found we had plenty of opposites in common. For instance, STFM is the youngest child in his family and I am the oldest. He was raised in a very strict denominational church and I was mostly unchurched. His parents who were approaching 40 as he became the surprise gift to complete their family and my parents were just out of their teens when I was born. (In fact, my parents are the same age as STFM’s oldest brother and wife.)
You get the point. As the saying goes, opposites attract. For us, being on opposite spectrums has been good. Notice I didn’t in any way mention easy, but good. Definitely good!
We have found, 30 years into our relationship, that we balance each other. At the core of our two become oneness, we agree on Jesus Christ as our Savior. Christ alone is our firm foundation. Yet in everyday life, as much as he can be pessimistic I can be annoyingly optimistic. As much as I can be a hard-nosed disciplinarian he can be annoyingly gracious.
In short, we balance each other!
So, how did Randy Brittain earn the nickname of STFM?
We were in a rough patch about eight years ago. It was as much my doing as his, and probably as much as anything else, the result of current life circumstances rubbing us raw. We were smack dab in the middle of the tough terrain of growing teenage sons to an independent and successful flight out of the nest. This was the place on our journey where our opposites seemed to divide us more than balance us.
Maybe you’ve heard it this way, “when we get squeezed the truth of what’s inside us comes out”? Well, it’s true. We were squeezed pretty tight for a time, and some of the ugly of what we were both holding inside erupted in a gushing flow.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (niv)
Fortunately, our pastor was willing to speak up and ask some hard questions. He cared enough to get involved, which was not what I expected. When I angrily asked if he really wanted to know what was really going on, he pulled his wife into the conversation and said, “yes”. Thankfully, through his intervention, we found help and began to heal.
Through (Christian) marriage counseling, we began to take note of the power of our words – not just words spoken to each other, but words spoken over ourselves. My dear STFM had been for months using destructive self-talk without thinking anything of it. “I’m just joking”, he would respond. However, very often he would say out loud, “I can’t wait to be a grumpy old man.”
Guess what? He was becoming a grumpy old man. And I was trying to be his junior holy spirit. Free advice: trying to be a junior holy spirit to anyone does not work.
One day I asked STFM, “How would you like it if I began stating matter-of-factly, ‘I can’t wait to get old and wrinkly and fat.’?” As you can imagine he didn’t care for that idea one bit. Sometimes it takes putting a shoe on the other foot to get a point across. He didn’t want me making an agreement with those words, so he agreed to reject his ‘grumpy old man’ words. The deal was made and sealed, in the name of Jesus!
Furthermore, we decided he needed a new proclamation for himself as he advanced in maturity. This was a pivotal time in our relationship with each other and with God. Our opposites began to balance us again. As we again moved toward God together, we grew closer to one another. A much-loved pastor taught us this concept in pre-marital counseling, but we needed a refresher – some pruning of dead branches to begin to bear good fruit again.
As previously stated – having grown up in Ohio, STFM had never experienced tropical living. When he moved to Orlando with his northern white skin, he burned immediately rather than tan. His goal in our youth was to be able to tan, and in particular to have suntanned feet. And this is how Randy Brittain became STFM – SunTanned Feet Man.
It is my pleasure today to share with you these insights from STFM:
During a recent visit to the Gulf of Mexico, afternoon storm clouds built up across the land. Storms at the ocean are fascinating. As the clouds moved towards the Gulf north of us, Lisa and I decided to sit in our beach chairs to watch the show.
The clouds blew over the water, the sky turned dark, and the sunlight was nearly blocked out. But at the horizon, there remained brilliant rays of light. The contrast was stark, darkness all around which only magnified the light.
Lisa and I talked how this was a spiritual metaphor – life’s dark storms cannot block out God’s Light.
If you’re in a storm like we are right now, take shelter in Jesus Christ. He is Light and the darkness will not overwhelm Him. He is our Rock and our firm foundation.
As my wife says, put your eyes on Jesus and shine!